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Thanks for the Meal

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“You’re a bit of a mess, aren’t you.” Her voice fills the elevator easily. She has to duck a bit to keep her horn from scratching the ceiling. She’s pretty blunt, but not what I’d call rude. “I knocked a couple times first, you know.” She brushes aside a stray hair, looking me up and down. “But you didn’t answer.” 
I’m leaned up against the corner of the elevator, trying to focus on the gentle hum of the machinery carrying us to the ground floor. 
She’s been sent to fetch me, apparently. For what and by whom, I’m not certain of the exact specifics. My head is even more of a mess after looking in the mirror, and only bits and pieces of her explanation stuck to my fly paper memory. She’s from Lungmen, where Kal’tsit is right now. I’m apparently to lend myself towards the fulfillment of some agreement, and meet up with Red and Amiya. That's something to look forward to. She had papers and the patience to demonstrate her legitimacy. Perhaps being overly paranoid, I reached out to Closure to confirm the situation,

Doctor/radish [8:30AM]: what can you tell me about this oni from Lungmen
Closure/nodejsferatu [8:30AM]: my dms are OPEN queen
Closure/nodejsferatu [8:30AM]: UGH
Closure/nodejsferatu [8:30AM]: we met a while back one time and I tried to get her to rough me up for a bit of real heavy play u know but
Closure/nodejsferatu [8:30AM]: TRAGICALLY
Closure/nodejsferatu [8:31AM]: all of her blood has been replaced with respecting women juice

 The oni had to help me find my cane, and practically held my hand all the way here. I’m used to being a marionette at this point. I don’t mind, not really. I try and steal a glance at her, but she’s quick to notice and gives me an easy smile.
“…what is your name again…?” I rub my temple, massaging at a building migraine.
“Forgot already, huh? Figured I left a better first impression than that.” She scratches at the back of her neck, looking a little defeated. All of her movements are very considered. The first thing you notice when looking at her, is her height. But it seems the one most keenly aware of her stature, is herself. Knowing that, it’s clear she puts in a lot of effort to look unimposing. I find myself studying her a bit too closely, and break my gaze away,
“…you impressed to be certain…” I sigh, trying to shift my weight a little to ease the burden on my good leg, 
“…but like you said, I am a bit of a mess, sorry…” My fractured mind reflects the days back at me through a lens of no uncertainty, “…more than just ‘a bit’ of a mess if I am being honest…” I feel a jitter slithering up my back, and shudder out a breath to keep from lapsing back in to panic.
“It’s Hoshiguma. You don’t have to worry about anything when I’m around, alright?”
“…did I give you my name…?” I genuinely have no idea. Hosghiguma shakes her head,
“Nah, I knew it before, though. But I wouldn’t mind a proper introduction.”  Her expression evens out as she watches the elevators floor marker slowly descend, before looking back to me.
“…Laika Esmerine Radigue…I am told I am a doctor, so…” I gesture to nothing in particular, “…do with that what you will…”

 As though to emphasize her earlier point, the elevator lurches to a stop at its destination and without thinking I try and keep my balance by leaning on my right leg. I crumple as pain nails itself to my thigh, but am steadied by an unwavering hand on my waist. God she has a grip you could just melt in to. She gives me a sly smile and helps me back to my feet. I swallow hard.

We move through parts of Rhodes Island I haven’t seen. I’m waved at by faces I should know. We get into a transport vehicle I didn’t know we had, fitted with supplies I knew nothing about. You’d think there would be a limit to the number of times I could have the same realization, but every time I’m confronted by the reality that the person I am is built upon years of experiences that have been carved from me, it causes me compounding distress. My slow pace only serves to prolong my discomfort. So it comes as no small relief, when I’m finally sitting in the cab of our transport, cane stashed in the ample leg room. The overhead lights dim and I savour the limiting of my senses, massaging out the knots taking roost in my leg. I hear Hoshiguma making last checks with the operators who helped load the vehicle. From what words make it through the reinforced glass, it sounds like we’re carrying medicine involved in the treatment of Oripathy. Seems I’m not the only commodity being brought to Lungmen. Before long, Hoshiguma ducks in to the cab, and we’re on our way.

We barely make it a couple miles across the barren and bumpy roads before I break the silence,
“…did I know you, before this…?” Hoshiguma keeps her eyes ahead but raises an eyebrow, “…what I mean to say is…” I stare pointedly at my boots, wondering how I could end that sentence in a way that makes me sound like a reasonably sane person. “…I have had a difficult couple of days…”
Hoshiguma let’s out a small laugh,
“Not personally, no. Like I said, I knew of you. Rhodes Island has done some clean up for Lungmen before, so I came across your name then.” She passes me a smile, “I’d like to get to know you better, though.” Her smile stays in place, and she lets her words linger heavy in the air. I blink, turning to stare at her.
“…you are awfully forward, aren’t you…”
She shrugs,
“You’re just my type is all.”
“…and what type would that be…?”
For a brief moment she looks away from the road and meets my eye, and though her voice is metered and calm I hear yearning on her smiling lips,
“A superior officer.”

 


 

Our drive is long, and eventually my migraine makes it difficult to maintain much of a conversation, as frustrating as that is. Hoshiguma is content to drive in silence, saying
“We don’t hear much of this in Lungmen.” While I stare out the window in fits of sleeplessness. There’s not much to look at but overcast skies and decaying ruins. The landscape of the world was irreparably altered with the advent of the Catastrophes. Most, if not all, major population centers were abandoned. The global economy shuddered and collapsed. What we knew as life had to be drastically redefined, nearly overnight. An impossible task, of course. But the creation of mobile cities put society on life support. Deeply fractured though it was. 
Our rover barrels along roads that haven’t seen wheels in years. Large chained tires rolling over cracks in the asphalt and across crystallized terrain. Stationary settlements are fewer and fewer, the refugees and the poor succumbing to the originium poisoned landscape, becoming part of it once they pass. Aside from the monstrously large mobile cities, there are few places that could be considered safe anymore. The one exception being the rest stops that are set up between each city, for the purpose of enabling long distance transport of goods. These little havens are partly mobile, able to relocate short lengths in order to avoid possible catastrophe touchdowns. The motels are privatized, but take ‘donations’ from various groups in exchange for reserving rooms and fuel.
As the sun is beginning to set, our transport eases to a stop out front of a rest area. The neon sign on the motel roof is bright enough to be seen for miles, and nearly harsh enough to be heard for just the same. Hoshiguma kills the engine, and our overhead lights start to dim. The loud neon paints the cabin pink, and the oni turns to face me.
“You seem the anxious type.” Straight to it as usual, I see. I scoff, but let her continue.
“So I want to make it clear that you have the final say here, okay?” I nod slowly and keep listening. She gestures to the rental office ahead.
“Do you want one room, or two?”

Not long after, I’m sitting on the edge of a rental bed. Looking around, the room is… odd. As though it was assembled by someone who had only ever heard of bedrooms second-hand. The wallpaper is crooked. There’s a lamp with no bulb screwed in, pushed up against a water heater that doesn’t work. Near the headboard of the mattress, a wobbly nightstand conceals an old Laterano style missionary bible. Honestly, I relate to this room. I kick off my shoes, hoping to achieve some vague sense of ‘arrival’, but only manage to make my toes cold. Hanging from the adjacent wall is a mirror, itself level with the floor and thus clashing with the misaligned wallpaper. Stumbling to my feet, I half hop over, and take it down. Propping it against the wall to hide my reflection. Not wanting to hop back, I lean myself at the bed and fall onto it. The springs creak as the mattress pukes out stale clouds of built up cleaning spray. What am I doing here. I pull out my tablet, hoping to ask Closure exactly that. But there’s no signal out here, of course. So I’m left to answer my own question. I’m doing what seems right, I guess. Doing what I’m told. Surviving, or at least trying to, for some reason. In all this hurt, trying to take for myself some comfort.
Hoshiguma pushes the door open, and shuts and locks it behind her. In one hand she’s holding two steaming styrofoam cups with peeled back plastic lids,
“Got some hot water from the rental office.” She offers me one of the cups, and I very carefully take it in my right hand. I take a deep breath of the salty steam and let it warm me.
She finishes her meal long before me, and not just because I’m having trouble coordinating both holding the cup and eating from it with one good arm. But I imagine, someone her size, she’s accustomed to eating much more than just this. While I fumble through the last of my noodles, she starts shedding her gear. Her breastplate and leather jacket. Those leather gloves and her combat boots. Soon she’s down to a simple black shirt and boxers. She rolls her shoulders and stretches out touching the ceiling with ease. I hear her back pop more than just a few times. I can see the fabric shift over her muscled skin. Savouring the remaining broth, I let my gaze glide down the curves of her body. First colliding with strong broad shoulders, rolling down breasts bigger than my own. Stretched as she is,  the fair skin of her lower back is put on display for a few lip biting inches. Her boxers cling tightly to her ass, that even a peach would be envious of. Her long pale legs are heavily muscled and could easily crack my head in two were I to find myself between her thighs. She grins at me over her shoulder, between strands of long silken green hair. I raise my empty cup to her,
“…thank you for the meal…”

 


 

The night is cold and her breath is warm against my neck. My fingers tangle through green hair at her crown. She nuzzles her head against mine, her lips brushing the scars on my ear,
“You can always red out. Say the word and I stop, okay?” Her voice is a breathy whisper, more felt than heard. I manage to rasp out an,
“…okay…” that trails off in to an incomprehensible moan as the flat of her hand presses against my cunt through the fabric of my pants. I push my good leg up between her thighs and her hips move against me, while I rake my fingers across her back. She lets out a laugh,
“Figured you for more of a pillow princess.” Her voice once clear and easy, now has an undeniable heat to it
“…ff-fuck yourselff…” Her hand moves just as I try to talk, her slender fingers jumbling my words with ease.
“I’m workin’ on it.” I feel the sticky wet warmth of her as she pushes against my leg, letting out little twitches of her own. She pulls her palm back, tracing the tips of her fingers slowly up the length of my inner thigh. She flattens her hand against my stomach, carefully pushing up the hem of my shirt. She could break me with the strength I feel through her limbs, but she lavishes my broken body with practiced tenderness. My breath hitches, as I feel the tips of her fingers slip just under my pants and no further. She pulls her head back, looking me in the eye,
“Is this okay?” Her voice holds me in genuine care. I dry swallow,
“…I have…a lot of scars…” I don’t know why I didn’t just say yes or no. My body is on fucking fire and my heartbeat drums away at full tilt. I’m not thinking clearly and I can hear the pink buzz of the neon sign outside.
She starts to pull her hand away, but I latch on to her wrist with my good hand. Lost in her gray eyes, I breathe out a shiver and manage a clear thought,
“…I want this…very much…” Still holding tight to her, I give her wrist a little push. Her calloused fingers slide across coarse hair, and deeper south. Letting go of her, I stifle a moan in to a squeak and bite my lip. Her gaze is warm against my skin, and with my right hand I pull up my shirt to reward her with more of my tattered body. In turn she treats me to heat, her fingers coyly avoiding my clit, instead stroking soft lips. I melt in to the motion of each rut as she easily dips in to me, slick as I am. Her shirt is gone, and I paint her collarbone with hickeys, my studded tongue tracing round a nipple gifting her tender teethmarks. I hear her moan against me, and revel in the feeling of it rumbling in her chest.
She shifts in the bed, for a moment pressing my left hand tight against the mattress, as she tries to get comfortable. And that’s all it takes. The fire dies in my gut, and suddenly it all feels like glass in meat. I shut down, pointedly stare away, stay as still as possible. I clamp shut my eye, and I remember a mantra I carved in to the marrow of my bones. I’m back in that dark room tracing the grate. I’m watching myself drip out of my freshly emptied socket. Ice and electric scramble a growing knot in my chest. I feel the manacles tight against my skin and know the permanent marks they’ll cut in to me. 


Don’t react, don’t move. Say nothing, bite your lip to bury each scream in your throat. Don’t show anything and they won’t hurt you as much today.


The oni notices almost immediately, and she pulls away. Her brow knits in concern, her hands out in a half reach. Uncertain, she gently calls my name,
“Laika?” I can’t keep myself together. My blood feels like battery acid. Her voice is hundreds of miles away. The last functioning vestige of my mind ekes out a half formed plea,
“…please…” Barely I manage to reach out towards her. My mind panics at the motion, screaming I’ll be punished for it.  She’s quick, and careful, taking my hand in her own. I feel that reassuring strength, try to pull it towards me with the last of my will. Next, Hoshiguma is back in bed. She pulls the covers up to her shoulders and over me, and its all dark. I feel her soft skin against me, hear her steady heartbeat. Her grip doesn’t constrict, but comforts. I feel her voice in her chest,
“Like this?” I manage a nod. She doesn’t touch me in any uncertain way and gives me a space to feel safe,
“Nothing can get you here. Right here in my arms is the safest place in the world.” The nerves start to leave my body, and despite being so warm, I shiver. Hoshiguma strokes my hair and speaks in a downy soft tone,
“It’s okay to cry if you need to. I promise I don’t mind.” And that’s all it takes, again. I unravel in to sobs and curl up against her. Fear and guilt, and shame and frustration take turns eating me up.

 The sheets are stained, and not in the way I had hoped. I’ve cried out all my woes, huddled up against a woman I’ve just met. I don’t know how much time has passed, hiding beneath these covers. I can still hear the motels neon sign buzzing away, the heavy winds sweeping the landscape. Idling engines as trucks pull in to re-fuel. Hoshiguma gently pushes her hand through my hair, and I sniffle.
“…how did you get so good at this…” I push myself out from under the covers, but stay in her arms. Her rainy day gray eyes reflect back to me distant sorrows.
“Lotta hookups. Lotta practice.” She smiles, and for the first time looks vulnerable. I stay quiet, but nudge her to keep going. Wanting to hear more, wanting to be swaddled in her voice.
She sighs, “Lungmen ain’t a great place to be if you’re poor, or whatever counts as ‘different’. Not that it’s much better anywhere else.” She takes a breath,
“I did what I had to, to survive. And so did my friends. I’ve got a lot less friends these days.” I can hear the healed-over losses in her words. She distracts herself by picking some fuzz out of my hair.
“How ‘bout you. How’d you get so good at crying?” I scoff, appreciating the humour. But don’t really have an answer and just mumble out an I don’t know and hide myself against her chest again. She goes back to petting my head and I feel her speak,
“They really shouldn’t be sending you out here, huh…”
“…I don’t know…” I manage a breath and spit out the thought rotting on my tongue, “…I am sorry about all this. For ruining your night. For-” She pushes a finger against my lips, before brushing away some still drying tears with her thumb. When she pulls away I continue, quieter
“…You do not even know me. I do not even know me…” I look up at her, incredulous. She studies my face for long enough to make me flush. She’s clearly confused, but polite enough not prod
“Well, from what I gather we’re gonna be working together in Lungmen, so…” She shifts on to her back, careful not to disturb me too much, “If you’d like we could try this again, sometime. We could both get to know you better.”
“…hah…looking to have a woman weep in to your arms every night…?” She smiles at that and shrugs.
 I sit up, moving to the edge of the bed, staring at the one window in the room. Watching the drapes slowly sway to the breeze sneaking through the improperly seated frames.
“…you had a finger in me up to the knuckle…I know what your tits taste like…and you have not even seen me naked…”
“And?”
“…I’d like to be seen, by you…”
Hoshiguma sits up slowly, taking a moment to pick her words,
“Ya sure? You don't have to.”
Breathing out my anxiety, I nod, and muster up my voice,
“…you have to promise me I am safe…” My right hand holds the hem of my shirt, and I bite my lip waiting for her response.
“You’re safe right now. Safest place you can be. Ain’t nothing or nobody gonna get you, and that’s no strings attached.”
“…you can’t touch unless I say…” I look back at her over my shoulder, and she nods. Slowly, I pull off my sweater, my sensitive skin made twice cold in the midnight air. Next, I unbutton my jeans and am quick to kick them off. Crawling across the bed, I sit in front of her, my legs folded under me. Reaching out I push against her chest, “…lean back…” I watch her eyes intently, feel out which parts of me she’s admiring.
“You’ve got some pretty fancy underwear for a doctor.”
“…you don’t know the half of it…” I reach back and unclip my bra, tossing it to the edge of the bed. She pulls in a greedy breath, tasting the air between us, glancing at my piercings. With her hungry gaze, she traces the old cuts on my chest, up to the collar of scars on my neck. That causes me pause, I shut my eye and try to breathe steady.
“Hey.” Hoshiguma, still leaning back, speaks gently. I open my eye to meet hers. “Thank you.”
With her help, I pull off her boxers, leaning in between her thighs, feeling soft skin and hard muscle against my cheek. This imposing giant of a woman, is surprisingly sensitive. I give her lips a lovers kiss, spoiling her wettest places. The stud on my tongue is smooth metal, and glides and bumps across her clit. I laugh and gasp in to her, as she rocks her hips and I hear the bed creak. She’s balled up handfuls of sheets in her hands, and her toes curl as we move in pace. She’s muttering obscenities improperly punctuated by my own tongue. For all she’s seen and enjoyed of me, I take what I’m owed in mouthfuls. Teethmarks on her legs and long filling tastes of what’s to come. The hair between her is rough on my skin, as I guide her even closer with my good arm and dig my fingers in. Her thighs tense, and quiver, she twitches against my tongue, her voice sputters incoherent towards a crescendo and leaps from the peak. I have her squirming against me as she finishes herself off, I plant kisses like flowers and gently run my hand up her stomach and down her leg, guiding her through the waves of climax.
Soon she’s breathy, totally slack, barely able to push her hair out of her face. She lets out a laugh from some previously hidden part of herself, and looks down at me. When from between her legs, I lock eyes with her, I speak,
“…thanks for the meal…”

 


 

 

[ARCHIVE FILE 2]

 

Vox Nihili Revised Information Handling Procedures - Effective Immediately

1. Events ███████████████████████████ , ███████████████████████████ , and ███████████████████████████ are henceforth to be considered as never having happened. Proper reparations have been prepared where necessary, while Operators Manticore and Platinum have been tasked with tying up the remaining loose ends.

2. Destroy all relevant medical examinations, records, etc that are currently on file for both myself and Amiya. Operator Kal’tsit will maintain a secure, analogue copy of all relevant information. Forgeries will be prepared for the dates in question and disseminated so as not to rouse suspicion. 

3. Through the use of Vox Nihili itself, ████████████████████████████████████ in order to cut short current information vectors. I have already spoken to those it may affect, and have been given their blessing. I’m sorry Closure, Warfarin…

4. Effective immediately, Amiya is to wear the rings designed by Dr. Kal’tsit and myself. Maintenance and monitoring of the rings is to become a regular part of Amiya’s check ups. Any change is to be immediately reported and addressed by Dr. Kal’tsit.

Ordered by: Dr. Radigue, Kal’tsit
Approved by: Dr. Radigue, Kal’tsit, Warfarin

The Doctor and I are in agreement, for the first time in recent memory. The possibility of the Doctor’s arts ability being hereditary absolutely can not come to light. Amiya is already going to have to sacrifice so much for the chance at a good life. We owe her this.
-Dr. Kal’tsit